Content planning

Great content starts with a plan that begins with these questions.

Who is your audience? This could be broad—developers, for example—but defining your audience more specifically will help you refine your plan. Is your audience writing software? Apps? IT tools? Games? Are they hobbyists, full-time developers, or IT pros who write code? What development software do they use?

What do they want to accomplish? Are they deciding whether to buy your product? Setting up a new computer? Learning new software? Preparing for a migration? Struggling with a PivotTable? Planning for network security? Is their need urgent? Few customers come to us to see what’s new. Understanding why they come will help you satisfy their needs.

What is your business goal for providing the content? Are you building enthusiasm for an upcoming product launch? Establishing a competitive position in the marketplace? Documenting an out-of-band release? Providing support content to accelerate migration? Although the customer’s goals are paramount, every communication has a business reason, too.

Do you have time or budget constraints? If time is of the essence, content you can create quickly might be best. The budget and the availability of an agency or specialized resources, like illustrators, designers, and video producers, will help you determine what content options are realistic.

What kind of content best meets the customer's needs and business goals? If the concepts are hard to explain, video or infographics could be just the thing. If the customer is preparing for a major project, maybe they need checklists and sample project plans, or a pricing calculator. For breaking news, tweets or a strategic blog post might be the best approach.

How will the customer find the content? What search terms will the customer use? Plan for search keyword optimization; links back to your content; and promotion through home pages, blogs, newsletters, events, third-party sites, communities, and social media if appropriate. To learn more, see Search and writing.

Where will the customer look for information? Part of knowing your customers is understanding where they go for information. If they have a problem, they may look to product documentation, Microsoft support, or an expert community. For training, Microsoft Virtual Academy or a video platform like YouTube might be their source. For tips and tricks, maybe it’s social media and blogs.

What devices will the customer use to experience the content? Laptops? Tablets? Phones? Wearable devices? Entertainment consoles? All of those? Plan for a great experience across devices the customer is likely to use.

Will the content be translated or localized? If so, plan your content to streamline those processes and contain costs. To learn more about developing content for translation and localization, see Global communications.

How will you measure success? Do you have numeric targets for views, clicks, or downloads? Goals for mentions or backlinks? Targets for lead generation? Planning for specific objectives up front will help you create content that meets them.

With these questions answered, you can narrow your approach. For example:

  • If the customer need is immediate, maybe you blog today and create a more polished article later.
  • If budget and timeline are tight, you might choose a simple text format.
  • If the audience is large and the topic complex, a short, professionally produced video might make sense.
  • If content will be localized in multiple languages, graphics supported by text might meet the customer and business need at a lower cost.

Content ideas for specific user needs

Need Content types Examples
Complete a simple task or use a simple feature in an app UI text
Short video
Blog, if it's a common issue or cool, little-known feature
Setting up email
Recall and replace sent messages
5 easy and powerful Excel features you may not know about
Complete a complex task or use a complex feature in an app UI text
End-to-end scenarios or conceptual articles
Technical papers or articles
Try the latest touchpad gestures
OneNote for (holiday) planning
Create an ASP.NET web app in Azure App Service
Set up Office 365 for business
Getting started with Microsoft Intune
Set up Microsoft account on your devices
Get timely communications, including news, announcements, event updates, tips, and stories Blog
OneNote, The Microsoft Office Blog
Virtual PC Guy’s blog
MSDN Flash newsletter
Get answers and expertise from a community Wiki
TechNet wiki
Exchange Server Forum
Microsoft Answers
Learn a complex or comprehensive concept or skill Online training
Technical white paper
Interactive graphics
System architecture
Make and receive calls using Skype for Business
SharePoint Automation with DSC
Azure Network Security (PDF)
Technical diagrams for SharePoint 2013
Learn or increase knowledge and skills related to a product, service, technology, or business concept Concept papers
Azure Security, Privacy, and Compliance (PDF)
SharePoint with SQL Server AlwaysOn
Microsoft Dynamics NAV: Grow Your Business e-book
Learn product tips and tricks UI text
Web documentation
Microblogs (such as Twitter)
Useful Tips and Tricks to Bring with You to the Vermintide 2 Beta on Xbox One
Skype: Keeping you connected on your vacation
Windows 10 Tip: Go back and forth in time with Timeline
Understand a process Interactive graphics
Interactive flow charts
Sample workflows
Sample files
What is governance in SharePoint 2013?
Overview of the upgrade process for SharePoint 2013
Upgrade worksheet for SharePoint 2013
Troubleshoot a problem Interactive flow chart
UI troubleshooter
How to run the Audio Troubleshooter in Windows 10